Getting tangled up seems to be a law of nature. All kinds of things get tangled up: power cords, earphones, fishing lines, rope, paper clips, Christmas lights and the list goes on. People too, become tangled up. What has you all tangled up right now?
When something we need to use becomes tangled up in knots, our frustrations run high. The temptation is to throw the tangled-up mess away and buy new. If we get in a hurry or if we are impatient, or impetuous as we try to untie the mess, it only gets worse. However, with a deep breath, patience, prayer, and a little bit of time, even the most knotted up mess can usually be untangled.
The same can be true for us. Proverbs 5:22 tells us that evil deeds can ensnare us, and the cords of our sins can hold us fast. In John 8:34, Jesus states, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin.” Since no one is free from sin, what are we to do? Patience, endurance, prayer, and trust in God are the keys to confronting the knots of life.
Some Christians hold onto false expectation. They believed that when they first placed their faith in Jesus Christ, their life would become free of entanglements. They believed that sin would flee and life would become completely righteous. Nothing can be further from the truth.
Living a righteous, sin-free life is certainly the goal of every Christian, but in reality, no one on this side of death, ever completely escapes the grip of sin. There is one thing I can say with certainty. Christian life includes sin and suffering. Long after our profession of faith in Jesus Christ, we still become tangled up in sin and the fleshly desires of life.
St. Paul encourages us to turn from our sinful desires and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace. He calls us to a purity of heart. He also warned us that doing this is far from easy. He makes it clear that we have a propensity to keep sinning.
Paul describes the great conundrum of Christian life in Romans 7:15-25. There he states, “What I do, I do not understand. For I do not do what I want, but I do what I hate.” He continues by saying, “For I do not do the good I want, but I do the evil I do not want.” Then in verse 24 Paul asks the question that we should all ask ourselves, “Miserable one that I am! Who will deliver me from this mortal body?”
Paul eventually goes on to answer his own question with this profound truth. “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Therefore, I myself, with my mind, serve the law of God but, with my flesh, the law of sin.” I am struck by Paul’s candor and honesty. He knows that even though he is a follower of Jesus, he will still get ensnared in sin.
Hebrews 12:1 states, “let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us.” Matthew 26:41 says, “Watch and pray that you may not undergo the test. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Thankfully we receive an assurance in 1 Corinthians 10:13 where we read, “No trial has come to you but what is human. God is faithful and will not let you be tried beyond your strength; but with the trial he will also provide a way out, so that you may be able to bear.”
Our lifelong struggle to break the bonds of sin can wear us down. We must remain on guard and not give in to despair. We have all sinned in the past, and we will all succumb to sin in the future. We must try our best to overcome sin. We must repent when we fall short. We must avoid self-condemnation if we find ourselves trapped and enmeshed in an addiction or a recurring sin. And we must always place ourselves at the mercy of Christ.
Life is perplexing and paradoxical. It is when we are laying on the ground, weighed down by sin, that we are forced to look up to God. When our heart is broken by sin, we can finally be healed by grace. With a contrite spirit we can begin to rejoice. When we repent, we can find victory. And it’s in our sin that we come face to face with the mercy of Jesus Christ.
If at this moment, you find yourself all twisted up in sin, don’t trust in yourself to find freedom. Rather, take a deep breath, place your faith and trust in Jesus, and pray without ceasing. We must all understand that Jesus alone can save us when we are all tangled up by the wretchedness of sin.
Jesus, I invite you into my life to untangle my messes and free me from the grasp of sin. Amen
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